Napier Street in the inner-Sydney suburb of Paddington hosts a pedestrianised space that extends to the intersection of Greens Road and Oxford Street, adjoining the UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA) campus.
Following an upgrade to the COFA facilities – including new entry foyer, gallery space and café – OCULUS was engaged by the City of Sydney to renew the eastern end of Napier Street. One of the main objectives in the brief was to transform the place into one of Paddington’s premier meeting places and activity nodes by creating a vibrant and inviting public domain.
The defining aspect of the space was and continues to be the tree canopy, comprised principally of fig trees (Ficus macrocarpa hillii & Ficus benjamina) and bangalow palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana). All the trees on site were retained and supplemented with dense planting that complements the curvilinear form of the seating walls and existing trees.
A decorative screen that varies in height between 1.0 to 1.5 metres was situated in the garden beds to the north, generally following the alignment of the service station wall before turning and realigning in a playful manner with the concrete seating edge to the east. The screen provides visual relief from the clutter of the adjoining service station canopy and acts as a strong identifying feature for the site.
The park's structure creates a series of rooms enclosed by the impressive tree canopy. The inclusion of the two decks allows direct movement through the site while providing three clear zones of occupation, which can be inhabited by COFA staff, students and visitors as well as the local community.